Posts Tagged "In The News"

Preppers in the paper

hopkins2We do live in extreme times and it seems to be getting worse. Today I received an email contained a link to a Fort Worth (Texas) newspaper, they wrote an article about modern day survivalists, it included a blurb about Bruce Hopkins, the owner of Of course the article contained more, and I am conflicted about its contents. (more…)

3rd Annual Bike for Peace and New Energies
by KELLY MEAD on JUNE 6, 2008 - 0 Comments in COMMUNITY

From June 12 through August 16, 2008 bike riders will be going from Paris to Moscow and then on to Peking. All in an effort to raise awareness that peace and facing the looming energy crisis is not just a local but international issue.
In 2006 and 2007 this ride was only from Paris to Moscow, this year it has been expanded to Peking after their success. This ride is also open to any solar electric rides as this is also a way to promote the use of alternative and renewable energies. Another of the unique aspects of this ride is that everyone is expected to pitch in and help one another. That means helping with meals, cleaning up th dishes, putting tents up, giving a helping hand to your fellow riders, etc. This event hope to pull riders from all nationalities and walks of life who all wish to promote peace and the use of renewable energies instead of the standard oil.

The stated goals of the organization are :

  • Renewable energies instead of wars for oil
  • Disarmament and social reconciliation
  • Peace policy instead of Milty violence
  • War must not be any more a means of policy
  • Create sustainable and peaceful Europe
  • Abashment of all nuclear weapons until 2020
  • Sporty meetings in the Olympic Spirit

They go in depth for each goal on the site, you can click here to take a look. This event is just an example of how the energy crisis that is looming, if not actually here, is being felt not just here in the USA but as the world as a whole. That being said the solutions we are more concerned with are those that touch us close4r to home. That is likely the case with most people, and luckily for us using alternative energy is not something only for certain demographics or locations.

What should be realized by those of us going to alternative and renewable energy, especially used on a personal scale, is that a hundred years ago that was the norm. Even in many countries around the world it still is the norm for the average person. Yes, we love our technology but technology does not mean we have to be plugged into the grid to enjoy it. Those living off the grid who love technology still can play with the same toys, though they are more responsible in making sure that phantom power is not being drained when not in use.

Looking around you right now what is plugged in but not on, what is on but not being actively used, what can be turned of because their is a free source for the same resource (lights on during the day)? These are questions you should ask yourself everytime you enter a room or walk through your home/office. You will be amazed at what you find. Habits are hard to break (like my husband still likes the lights on during the day) but they can be broken (sometimes with a frying pan). Sometimes outside reminders help, sometimes realizing the cost of the habit helps more, and sometimes you just need to have someone else to help. The real magic is being able to realize which is right for you.

Most of us adults were brought up in a consumer lifestyle from diapers on up. That is something that needs to be retrained in us. Not saying that you don’t need to buy things new or replace old things, just saying that we need to look at all stuff a valuable even if it’s first use is no longer valid to us. Always remember the saying “One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure”. That is as true today in the age of disposable everything as it was for my grandparents growing up in the Great Depression. You see all types of ideas when surfing the net of people finding interesting things to do with what most of us view as trash. RecyleCindy has a blog about bags that she has crocheted from those plastic grocery bags most people throw away or just use for holding their recyclables. She not only shows the pictures of these wonderful creations but gives the directions so others can do it themselves.

All the tings that were discussed in today’s post were to give you a sampling of the innovative things people are doing to change the way we see and respond to our world. Some are not as grand as others but with each tiny or large effort they are bringing change. So this article was to inspire all to take those little steps and be proud of what you have accomplished to whatever your bigger goal is. Changing your lifestyle is an extreme change and as such should be taken at the pace you are comfortable with and can handle. You didn’t get to where you are overnight and you won’t accomplish your goals overnight either.

An Alliance and A Campaign
by KELLY MEAD on JUNE 2, 2008 - 0 Comments in EVENTS

logo for Alliance for climate protection

Since it’s a political year, not that every year isn’t one, we looked around to see who is taking advantage of our politticans being a little more open to listening to going green, being self-sufficient, and/or environmental issues. So of course we checked out the We Can Solve It website.

The We Can Solve It campaign is a project of the Allliance for Climate Protection. The Alliance single purpose is to get the pulic involved and active in solving the climate crisis we are facing. Yes this is the foundation that Former Vice President Al Gore started in 2006. That is not a reason to like or dislike this campaign/organization but it helps to have a big name attached ask any foundation that has celeberties as part of their organization. The idea behind this website looks like a good one. A place to find events, list or (as we did) start groups, blog about your experience or read someone’s blog, and get recent news from the organization.

The organization believes that since public awareness of the climate changes is high then so should the understanding that solutions are needed too. Unfortunately for those of us in the USA climate change (or what ever you wish to call it) has become so entrenched in people political views that getting past the politics and dealing with the reality that our climate is changing, no matter the how or why. Idealogy and sterotypes are rampt in America’s culture and that can be a good thing, who doesn’t love apple pie, but when dealing with reality it doesn’t leave much room for preconcieved ideas. Helping people beak down partisan lines and changing the issue from being politics as usual is a main goal or them.

“What has consistently been missing, however, is a massive and sustained national effort to catalyze a broad culture shift on the issue, raising the climate crisis out of a partisan framework and unlocking the potential for real solutions. Our leaders will take the bold actions needed to solve the climate crisis only when the American people demand that change.” from The Alliance for Climate Protection and the We Campaign: Fact Sheet

If they can accomplish their goals then maybe dealing with the changes in our climate will no longer be a “who/what is at fault” but a “how to deal with it”. So with that thought we added a group to their site called “Off Grid USA” and we are looking into putting together a real world club that can be a place for those of us going off the grid, green or already there to get together to discuss, share, and help one another.

Interestingly enough listening to the congressional committee on Climate Change and Alternate Energy (may not be the official name) on Cspan the other day it was noticed that the most opening statements were not about where to start looking for answers but who’s fault Republicina (Bush) or Democrat (Pelosi). It’s was amazing that with most of the congressmen expressing that they have trouble explaining how gas prices and energy cost have gotten so high to their voters they are still playing the blame game. If all they can see is that they don’t want to be blamed and not that they can actually make a difference then it’s easy to see why us as everyday Americans need to demand that enough politics as usual. If they spent even half the time and energy they have at their disposal to work on the problems we face instead of finding fault and assigning blame who knows how our country and world could be improved.

If You Can’t Be Off Grid Then Live In A SmartGridCity
by KELLY MEAD on MAY 20, 2008 - 0 Comments in EVENTS, OFF-GRID 101

What is a Smart Grid City? It’s a new concept that is being built in Boulder, Colorado to make using conventional grid energy more efficient in it’s use and cost. it is probably best put by the chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, Dick Kelly:

  • “We’re on our way toward building the grid of the future and making SmartGridCity a reality. This is a forward-thinking project that will transform the way we do business. In SmartGridCity, our customers will have more information, including the tools to communicate directly with us, and will choose when and how they use their energy based on price, generating resource or convenience.”

The design phase completion was announced on May 15, 2008 and that the equipment needed has been ordered and construction has already started. Since the study done by the Smart Grid Consortium and Xcel Energy to develop a scope and design to implement this change was just completed this past April. To say this is on the fast track seems to be an understatement. Though as we American’s have shown time and time again when we are fired up bu something we can do it at an extremely efficient rate. If this planned project goes as well as expected then by December 2009 the city of Boulder will be adding renewable energy to it’s power sources as well as integrating plug-in hybrid cars for it’s citizens.

The idea to use the technology we have as well and push the envelope to lower consumption of the energy we have available on the grid is a great step to helping people become more involved in their energy choices. If everyone had the information about what the cost of plugging something in or turning it on would cost in both energy and cash then questioning the need for it could become second nature to everyone. How many times do people turn on lights in the middle of the day because shades haven’t been opened yet, or charging a mobile device when it’s not empty or longer then needed, or left lights on because they would be right back, or any of hundreds of little things that because we don’t see the cost at time of use we don’t always think about it.

Hoping for this to be a success for more then the city of Boulder should be anyones hope that wishes to change the way we treat energy. If a city can be taught to conserve and use wisely as a whole then us that are working towards that on our own can benefit, too. The technology to do this will be improved, price should become more realistic for the common person, and more information about problems and solutions will be available. Of course, that’s a best case scenerio and here at The Off Grid Home that is what we all hope for.

Included below is an excerpt from the Xcel Energy May 15, 2008 press release on the schedule and phases they hope to accomplish in order to make Boulder, CO a SmartGridCity.


Phase I, which runs from March 2008 to August 2008, is the demonstration phase, and initial installations will take place to test capabilities and gauge customer reaction. Phase II, which runs from September 2008 to December 2009, will be a full deployment phase to a broader customer base. Xcel Energy and its partners will dedicate up to 115 people to SmartGridCity, to install and monitor more distribution as well as in-home equipment, and work with customers to begin using the new technology.

Phase I: March 2008 – August 2008

  • Includes full-system automation, monitoring and smart meters for the first group of SmartGridCity customers. Involves upgrades to two substations, five feeders and nearly 15,000 meters (representing both residential, commercial and light industrial customers) in Boulder.
  • Web portal will provide consumers with insight into their energy use and information for better home energy management.
  • A dedicated customer service phone number (1-877-887-3339) and e-mail address ( for SmartGridCity customers.
  • Some customers can choose to have in-home automation tools, allowing increased control over home energy use and costs.
  • By mid-August, initial capabilities should be demonstrated.

Phase II: September 2008 – December 2009

  • Complete the installation of a distribution and communication network for remaining areas within Boulder (an additional two substations, 20 feeders and smart meters for an additional 35,000 premises).
  • Expanded in-home automation installations.
  • Enable Web portal access to all SmartGridCity customers.
  • Begin initial integration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, solar and wind co-generation sources onto the grid in Boulder.

Xcel Energy and its partners have started installing the high-speed communications network and smart grid sensing equipment necessary for deploying SmartGridCity, which will enable two-way communication between customers and the company.

The company has ordered approximately 15,000 Landis+Gyr smart meters, which will be installed by August 2008. In June, crews will begin installing them, at approximately 2,500 meters each week. The new smart meters provide detailed usage history and automated meter reading. The meter installation will be at no charge to the customer.

The potential benefits of SmartGridCity include operational savings, customer-choice energy management, better grid reliability, greater energy efficiency and conservation options, increased use of renewable energy sources and support for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and intelligent-home appliances.

Xcel Energy anticipates funding only a portion of the project, and plans to leverage other sources including government grants for the remainder of what could be up to a $100 million effort.

In December 2007, Xcel Energy established the Smart Grid Consortium, bringing together leading technologists, engineering firms, business leaders and IT experts. Consortium members include Accenture, Current Group, GridPoint, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Ventyx. The group will provide guidance, products and services needed to bring Xcel Energy’s smart grid vision to life.

For the full design and scope plan, and additional information on SmartGridCity, visit

RPS Policies at State-Level examined by Berkeley Lab
by KELLY MEAD on APRIL 25, 2008 - 0 Comments in EVENTS

States with RPS PoliciesA new report was released by the U.S. Dept of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (Berkley Lab) shows that renewable energy is being supported by a growing number of states. This is being done by the creation of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) which this report gives an overview of the experience with these new state-level policies. A RPS policy is one that requires retail electricity suppliers to procure a stated minimum quantity of eligible renewable energy.

“State RPS policies require utilities to buy a certain amount of renewable energy, and these programs have emerged as one of the most important drivers of renewable energy deployment in the U.S.,” states Ryan Wiser, “But, as the popularity and importance of these RPS’s have increased, so too has the need to keep up with the design, early experience, and projected impacts of these programs. Our report is designed to meet that need.” Ryan Wiser is part of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) and was one of two primary authors for the report.

25 states and Washignton DC have RPS policies in effect and apply to nearly 50% of the total U.S. electricity load. In 2007 four new states have non-binding goals.

The reports other primary author and member of Berkley Lab’s EETD noted “Many of these policies have been established recently and each is designed differently, As a result, the experience has been decidedly mixed.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • More than 50-percent of non-hydro renewable capacity additions in the U.S. from 1998 through 2007 occurred in states with RPS policies, and 93-percent of these additions came from wind power.
  • Existing state RPS policies, if fully achieved, would require roughly 60 GW of new renewable capacity by 2025, equivalent to 15-percent of projected electricity demand growth.
  • Solar set-asides in state RPS policies are becoming more common, and these policies have supported more than 165 MW of new solar capacity so far; a total of roughly 6,700 MW of solar capacity would be needed by 2025 to fully meet these set-asides.
  • The early-year renewable energy purchase targets in the majority of state RPS policies have been fully or almost-fully achieved, with overall average compliance at 94-percent in 2006.
  • Nonetheless, a number of states have struggled to meet even their early-year RPS targets, and many states have been reluctant to penalize non-compliance.
  • Renewable energy certificate (REC) tracking systems continue to expand, and all but four states allow unbundled RECs to count towards RPS compliance.
  • The cost of RPS policies varies by state, but in most states, these programs have, so far, increased electricity rates by one-percent or less; in several states, the renewable electricity required by RPS policies appears competitive with fossil generation

The market for renewable energy is rapidly changing and increasingly states are hoping to support this growth. “Given the major role that state RPS policies are playing, we hope that this report will help improve the next generation of these programs,” Wiser concluded.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability of the U.S. Department of Energy funded Berkeley Lab’s contributions to this report.

Berkeley Lab islocated in Berkeley, California and is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory . It is managed by the University of California and conducts unclassified scientific research. You can visit their website at

Make a Difference in NOLA
by KELLY MEAD on MARCH 28, 2008 - 0 Comments in EVENTS

Make It Right 9 Eco Friendly Home

We are happy to announce that Make It Right9 in NOLA (New Orleans, LA) has given us our own home to promote. Once you follow the link go down the list till you see our home, we we’re second to last at the time of this post. We also welcome anyone who wishes to use the banner above to let other’s know about this wonderful opportunity.

The home is sponsored in the name all those who are dedicated to having a healthier and/or self-sufficient home of their own. Let all of us who truly believe in this way of life make a statement by helping to get some people back on their feet in a way that we believe in. Showing that not only is it important personally to us, but to everyone because of the reduce strain on our environment, reduce strain on ourselves and our families, better health, less stress, and even lower costs for running a home.

You can donate as little or as much as you are able. $5 can buy a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Bulb), $25 low VOC paint, $40 a low flow shower head, $100 for a programmable thermostat, $200 for a ceiling fan, $500 for energy efficient lighting, $1500 for a tankless water heater, $3000 for the heating and cooling system , $5000 for a rainwater harvester, or even $25,000 for rooftop solar panels. As you can see there is a wide range of donations needed. This list is just a partial what can be sponsored. When you click to donate to the home at Make it Right 9 get an interactive home that shows you where your funds will be put to use and why that product was chosen. So not only can you do a good deed but you can learn while you’re doing it.

We also encourage you to talk with friends and family about getting this project finished. They are over half way to meeting their goal of 150 homes. The count is 81 homes and almost a quarter of the next one sponsored. Showing that this a way of life not only for rural areas can have a big impact on showing the public at large that this is an attainable goal for the average Joe.

Of course they approved The Eco Friendly Home today because yesterday we did our updates. Sorry that you got two updates in a row but we thought this was important enough to post as soon as we found out about it.

Updates on Previous Posts
by KELLY MEAD on MARCH 27, 2008 - 0 Comments in COMMUNITY

Thought it was time to update some of our previous posts. Since we started this journey back in October we have run across some amazing movements, events, products, and people and we wanted to check in on them and see how things have gone.

Make It Right 9 of New Orleans has raised funds to build 81 of their proposed 150 homes. We are still waiting on word whether we can sponsor our own home. So check back or if you can’t wait please visit them and donate to a worthy cause. You can also visit them to find out more about the amazing people and organizations that are involved in this opportunity to not only give someone a helping hand but to help show that being self-sufficient in our resource needs can be done in today’s world community wide.

Our Hollywood Going Green? post back in November was about a convention being held in December. I know I said I would wait for the movie so guess what they have posted their presentations. Now to find the time watch them! If you do or attended let us know what you think. We will be starting a thread at the forum about them.

We Love It’s Not easy Being Green was about the BBC show on a family transforming an old farmhouse to their off grid utopia. We haven’t seen anything about another season but the charity they started The Big Green Idea has continued on. Starting in summer 2008 they plan to have a green double decker bus touring the UK to let people have hands on experiences of products used to get off grid, while also offering movie and documentary viewings. Even though these sites are geared for the UK they are a great source of ideas to bring across the “pond”.

Ava Solar from our $1 per watt of Soalr Energy post has been moving froward on mass production of their new panels. “ We are very happy with our initial pre-production runs and have decided to move up production plans on our existing manufacturing line,” said Pascal Noronha, President and CEO of AVA Solar. “Although this will be relatively limited production, we intend to accelerate our production learning curve and get our products into the market faster than we thought possible last year.” They have also announced that instead of building a new manufacturing plant in Fort Collins they will be using an existing physicality in Northern Colorado which helped speed up the production time-line.

In December we wanted you to Help Focus The Nation. The online web-cast had problems as many more than anticipated people, groups, and institutions logged on to be part of it. Though they then made it available to watch anytime. We admit that we were part of the unfortunate ones that had problems and were kicked out of the live cast. If you had problems or missed it you can catch it here. Also the results are in on Choose Your Future and the top ten changes Americans would like to see are:

  1. Invest in the Clean Energy Revolution
  2. Create Green Jobs, Save Energy
  3. No New Coal Plants without “Capture and Sequestration”
  4. Cap CO2 Emissions, Share the Auction Revenues
  5. Build Green: Carbon Neutral by 2030
  6. Jumpstart Low Polluting Biofuel
  7. Support Stronger Forests
  8. Tax Global Warming Pollution
  9. Cleaner Cars, California-style
  10. Get Efficient- Cut Energy, Save Money

We United in Kindness in December also and would love to see other bloggers do so again with an emphasis on kindness to the Earth in April. So if you blog or have a voice in either the virtual or physical world we encourage you to promote or be kind to our environment on Earth Day, April 22, 2008. Or you can join with us and others on April 21 and Make Noise for your politicians and let them know how important you as voters find environmental concerns.

So that should bring you up to current posts and happenings. We will be continuing to bring you news and information to encourage and help you to go off the grid and green. Our journey has taken turns we didn’t expect already and are excited to keep going. We have learned valuable information, got to be part of historic events, met wonderful people both online and in person, and gotten even more excited about choosing this lifestyle (if that was possible) in such a short time. We will continue to grow and inform and have great plans, such as newsletters. We hope that you will continue this journey with us. As always we welcome comments, emails ( , information, and even criticism.

Earth Day Rx: Slow Global Warming by Stopping Junk Mail
by KELLY MEAD on MARCH 22, 2008 - 0 Comments in EVENTS

Junk Mail Consumes More Energy than 2.8 Million Cars

Ferndale, Mich. — With growing public concern about climate change and the health of the planet, offers a quick, easy and effective way that everyone can make a difference: stop junk mail! The energy used for junk mail each year creates more greenhouse gas emissions than 2.8 million cars. And, it wastes 28 billion gallons of water and 100 million trees! Junk mail is more than a personal nuisance, it’s an environmental hazard.

The service will stop your junk mail for five years by contacting dozens of direct mail companies to remove your name from their marketing lists. This includes almost all credit card applications and coupon mailers, plus any catalogs you specify. also will donate more than 1/3 of the $41 fee to an environmental or community organization of your choice! To sign up, go to supports non-profit organizations working for a healthy environment and healthy communities. These partners include American Forests, Trees for the Future, WildWest Institute, Friends of the Urban Forest, Habitat for Humanity (East Bay), Center for a New American Dream and others.

Each household that reduces its junk mail for five years will prevent 460 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere — and gain 8 hours of free time!

  • The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year.
  • More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail.
  • Americans waste about 8 hours a year dealing with junk mail.

Three brothers — Sander DeVries, Tim Pfannes and Shane Pfannes — started 41 Pounds as a community service project in addition to their regular jobs.

“We’re surprised and pleased at how quickly it’s catching on,” said 41 Pounds co-founder Sander DeVries. “ is like the national ‘do not call’ list, but for your mail. We contact the direct marketing companies around the country to get your name off their lists and make sure you’re no longer deluged by junk mail.”

“ appreciates the growing concern about climate change, and they’ve provided a simple, easy step people can take to have a positive impact,” said Deborah Gangloff, Executive Director of American Forests.

To sign up or learn more, go to

Revenge of the Eroding Village of Kivalina
by KELLY MEAD on FEBRUARY 28, 2008 - 1 Comment in EVENTS

The shrinking village of Kivalina, Alaska is suing 9 oil companies, 14 power companies, and one coal company for damage that has been caused by global warming to their island. This suit was filed Tuesday, Feb 26, in San Fransisco’s U.S. District Court on behalf of the city of Kivalina and it’s federally recognized tribe, Alaska Native village of Kivalina. The suit is claiming that the large amounts of greenhouse gases these companies have emitted has contributed to global warming and that is now threatening their communities existence.

The traditional Inupiat Eskimo village of 391 is located on an 8-mile barrier reef about 625 miles northwest of Anchorage. The community has been traditionaly protected by sea ice. While their economy is based partly on the fishing of salmon and hunting of seal, walrus, and whale. Since the sea ice is now forming later and then melting earlier becuase of higher tempatures due to global warming. This leaves the village unprotected from fall and winter storm surges and waves that pound costal communities.

“We are seeing accelerated erosion because of the loss of sea ice,” in a statement from City Administrator Janet Mitchell. “We normally have ice starting in October, but now we have open water even into December so our island is not protected from the storms.” The damage that global warming has caused has been documented in official government reports by both the General Accounting Office and the Army Corps of Engineers.

This lawsuit invokes the federal common law of public nusiance so that every entity that contributes to pollution that is now harming Kivialina can be liable. Part of the lawsuit is also cliaming a conspiracy among some of the defendents by publicly misleading the public on the causes and consquences of global warming.

Since the island is shrinking relocation is the only option left to the people of this village. The estimated costs to do that is at $400 million if not more.

The oil companies named are : Exxon Mobil, BP, PLC, BP America Inc., BP Products North America, Inc., Chevron Corp., Chevron U.S.A., INC., ConocoPhilips Co., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and Shell Oil Co.

The energy and power companies named are: AES Corp., American Electric Power Co. Inc., American Elctric Power Service Corp.,DTER Energy Co., Duke Energy Corp., Dynegy Holdings, Inc., Edison International, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., Mirant Corp., NRG Energy, Pinnacle West Capital Corp., Reliant Energy Inc., the Southern Co., and Xcel Energy Inc.

The single major coal producer named was Peabody Energy Co.

This will prove to be an interesting case to follow.

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